Part 1 out of 2
Prepared by Miriam Bobkoff
by Louisa May Alcott
"Pondering shadows, colors, clouds
Grass-buds, and caterpillar shrouds
Boughs on which the wild bees settle,
Tints that spot the violet's petal."
FOR WHOM THEY WERE FANCIED,
THESE FLOWER FABLES
BY HER FRIEND,
Boston, Dec. 9, 1854.
The Frost King: or, The Power of Love
Eva's Visit to Fairy-Land
The Flower's Lesson
Lily-Bell and Thistledown
Little Annie's Dream: or, The Fairy Flower
Ripple, the Water-Spirit
THE summer moon shone brightly down upon the sleeping earth, while
far away from mortal eyes danced the Fairy folk. Fire-flies hung
in bright clusters on the dewy leaves, that waved in the cool
night-wind; and the flowers stood gazing, in very wonder, at the
little Elves, who lay among the fern-leaves, swung in the vine-boughs,
sailed on the lake in lily cups, or danced on the mossy ground,
to the music of the hare-bells, who rung out their merriest peal
in honor of the night.
Under the shade of a wild rose sat the Queen and her little
Maids of Honor, beside the silvery mushroom where the feast
"Now, my friends," said she, "to while away the time till the bright
moon goes down, let us each tell a tale, or relate what we have done
or learned this day. I will begin with you, Sunny Lock," added she,
turning to a lovely little Elf, who lay among the fragrant leaves
of a primrose.
With a gay smile, "Sunny Lock" began her story.
"As I was painting the bright petals of a blue bell, it told me
THE POWER OF LOVE.
THREE little Fairies sat in the fields eating their breakfast;
each among the leaves of her favorite flower, Daisy, Primrose,
and Violet, were happy as Elves need be.
The morning wind gently rocked them to and fro, and the sun
shone warmly down upon the dewy grass, where butterflies spread
their gay wings, and bees with their deep voices sung
among the flowers; while the little birds hopped merrily about
to peep at them.
On a silvery mushroom was spread the breakfast; little cakes
of flower-dust lay on a broad green leaf, beside a crimson
strawberry, which, with sugar from the violet, and cream
from the yellow milkweed, made a fairy meal, and their drink was
the dew from the flowers' bright leaves.
"Ah me," sighed Primrose, throwing herself languidly back,
"how warm the sun grows! give me another piece of strawberry,
and then I must hasten away to the shadow of the ferns. But
while I eat, tell me, dear Violet, why are you all so sad?
I have scarce seen a happy face since my return from Rose Land;
dear friend, what means it?"
"I will tell you," replied little Violet, the tears gathering
in her soft eyes. "Our good Queen is ever striving to keep
the dear flowers from the power of the cruel Frost-King; many ways
she tried, but all have failed. She has sent messengers to his court
with costly gifts; but all have returned sick for want of sunlight,
weary and sad; we have watched over them, heedless of sun or shower,
but still his dark spirits do their work, and we are left to weep
over our blighted blossoms. Thus have we striven, and in vain;
and this night our Queen holds council for the last time. Therefore
are we sad, dear Primrose, for she has toiled and cared for us,
and we can do nothing to help or advise her now."
"It is indeed a cruel thing," replied her friend; "but as we cannot
help it, we must suffer patiently, and not let the sorrows of others
disturb our happiness. But, dear sisters, see you not how high
the sun is getting? I have my locks to curl, and my robe to prepare
for the evening; therefore I must be gone, or I shall be brown as
a withered leaf in this warm light." So, gathering a tiny mushroom
for a parasol, she flew away; Daisy soon followed, and Violet was
Then she spread the table afresh, and to it came fearlessly the busy
ant and bee, gay butterfly and bird; even the poor blind mole and
humble worm were not forgotten; and with gentle words she gave to all,
while each learned something of their kind little teacher; and the
love that made her own heart bright shone alike on all.
The ant and bee learned generosity, the butterfly and bird
contentment, the mole and worm confidence in the love of others;
and each went to their home better for the little time they had been
Evening came, and with it troops of Elves to counsel their good Queen,
who, seated on her mossy throne, looked anxiously upon the throng
below, whose glittering wings and rustling robes gleamed like
At length she rose, and amid the deep silence spoke thus:--
"Dear children, let us not tire of a good work, hard though it be
and wearisome; think of the many little hearts that in their sorrow
look to us for help. What would the green earth be without its
lovely flowers, and what a lonely home for us! Their beauty fills
our hearts with brightness, and their love with tender thoughts.
Ought we then to leave them to die uncared for and alone? They give
to us their all; ought we not to toil unceasingly, that they may
bloom in peace within their quiet homes? We have tried to gain
the love of the stern Frost-King, but in vain; his heart is hard as
his own icy land; no love can melt, no kindness bring it back to
sunlight and to joy. How then may we keep our frail blossoms
from his cruel spirits? Who will give us counsel? Who will be
our messenger for the last time? Speak, my subjects."
Then a great murmuring arose, and many spoke, some for costlier gifts,
some for war; and the fearful counselled patience and submission.
Long and eagerly they spoke, and their soft voices rose high.
Then sweet music sounded on the air, and the loud tones were hushed,
as in wondering silence the Fairies waited what should come.
Through the crowd there came a little form, a wreath of pure
white violets lay among the bright locks that fell so softly
round the gentle face, where a deep blush glowed, as, kneeling at
the throne, little Violet said:--
"Dear Queen, we have bent to the Frost-King's power, we have borne
gifts unto his pride, but have we gone trustingly to him and
spoken fearlessly of his evil deeds? Have we shed the soft light
of unwearied love around his cold heart, and with patient tenderness
shown him how bright and beautiful love can make even the darkest lot?
"Our messengers have gone fearfully, and with cold looks and
courtly words offered him rich gifts, things he cared not for,
and with equal pride has he sent them back.
"Then let me, the weakest of your band, go to him, trusting
in the love I know lies hidden in the coldest heart.
"I will bear only a garland of our fairest flowers; these
will I wind about him, and their bright faces, looking lovingly
in his, will bring sweet thoughts to his dark mind, and their
soft breath steal in like gentle words. Then, when he sees them
fading on his breast, will he not sigh that there is no warmth there
to keep them fresh and lovely? This will I do, dear Queen, and
never leave his dreary home, till the sunlight falls on flowers
fair as those that bloom in our own dear land."
Silently the Queen had listened, but now, rising and placing her hand
on little Violet's head, she said, turning to the throng below:--
"We in our pride and power have erred, while this, the weakest and
lowliest of our subjects, has from the innocence of her own pure heart
counselled us more wisely than the noblest of our train.
All who will aid our brave little messenger, lift your wands,
that we may know who will place their trust in the Power of Love."
Every fairy wand glistened in the air, as with silvery voices
they cried, "Love and little Violet."
Then down from the throne, hand in hand, came the Queen and Violet,
and till the moon sank did the Fairies toil, to weave a wreath
of the fairest flowers. Tenderly they gathered them, with the
night-dew fresh upon their leaves, and as they wove chanted sweet
spells, and whispered fairy blessings on the bright messengers
whom they sent forth to die in a dreary land, that their gentle
kindred might bloom unharmed.
At length it was done; and the fair flowers lay glowing
in the soft starlight, while beside them stood the Fairies, singing
to the music of the wind-harps:--
"We are sending you, dear flowers,
Forth alone to die,
Where your gentle sisters may not weep
O'er the cold graves where you lie;
But you go to bring them fadeless life
In the bright homes where they dwell,
And you softly smile that 't is so,
As we sadly sing farewell.
O plead with gentle words for us,
And whisper tenderly
Of generous love to that cold heart,
And it will answer ye;
And though you fade in a dreary home,
Yet loving hearts will tell
Of the joy and peace that you have given:
Flowers, dear flowers, farewell!"
The morning sun looked softly down upon the broad green earth,
which like a mighty altar was sending up clouds of perfume from its
breast, while flowers danced gayly in the summer wind, and birds sang
their morning hymn among the cool green leaves. Then high above,
on shining wings, soared a little form. The sunlight rested softly
on the silken hair, and the winds fanned lovingly the bright face,
and brought the sweetest odors to cheer her on.
Thus went Violet through the clear air, and the earth looked
smiling up to her, as, with the bright wreath folded in her
arms, she flew among the soft, white clouds.
On and on she went, over hill and valley, broad rivers and
rustling woods, till the warm sunlight passed away, the winds
grew cold, and the air thick with falling snow. Then far below
she saw the Frost-King's home. Pillars of hard, gray ice supported
the high, arched roof, hung with crystal icicles. Dreary gardens
lay around, filled with withered flowers and bare, drooping trees;
while heavy clouds hung low in the dark sky, and a cold wind
murmured sadly through the wintry air.
With a beating heart Violet folded her fading wreath more closely
to her breast, and with weary wings flew onward to the dreary palace.
Here, before the closed doors, stood many forms with dark faces and
harsh, discordant voices, who sternly asked the shivering little Fairy
why she came to them.
Gently she answered, telling them her errand, beseeching them
to let her pass ere the cold wind blighted her frail blossoms.
Then they flung wide the doors, and she passed in.
Walls of ice, carved with strange figures, were around her;
glittering icicles hung from the high roof, and soft, white snow
covered the hard floors. On a throne hung with clouds sat
the Frost-King; a crown of crystals bound his white locks, and
a dark mantle wrought with delicate frost-work was folded over
his cold breast.
His stern face could not stay little Violet, and on through
the long hall she went, heedless of the snow that gathered on
her feet, and the bleak wind that blew around her; while the King
with wondering eyes looked on the golden light that played upon the
dark walls as she passed.
The flowers, as if they knew their part, unfolded their bright leaves,
and poured forth their sweetest perfume, as, kneeling at the throne,
the brave little Fairy said,--
"O King of blight and sorrow, send me not away till I have
brought back the light and joy that will make your dark home bright
and beautiful again. Let me call back to the desolate gardens the
fair forms that are gone, and their soft voices blessing you will
bring to your breast a never failing joy. Cast by your icy crown
and sceptre, and let the sunlight of love fall softly on your heart.
"Then will the earth bloom again in all its beauty, and your dim eyes
will rest only on fair forms, while music shall sound through these
dreary halls, and the love of grateful hearts be yours. Have pity
on the gentle flower-spirits, and do not doom them to an early death,
when they might bloom in fadeless beauty, making us wiser by their
gentle teachings, and the earth brighter by their lovely forms.
These fair flowers, with the prayers of all Fairy Land, I lay
before you; O send me not away till they are answered."
And with tears falling thick and fast upon their tender leaves,
Violet laid the wreath at his feet, while the golden light grew ever
brighter as it fell upon the little form so humbly kneeling there.
The King's stern face grew milder as he gazed on the gentle Fairy,
and the flowers seemed to look beseechingly upon him; while their
fragrant voices sounded softly in his ear, telling of their dying
sisters, and of the joy it gives to bring happiness to the weak
and sorrowing. But he drew the dark mantle closer over his breast
and answered coldly,--
"I cannot grant your prayer, little Fairy; it is my will
the flowers should die. Go back to your Queen, and tell her
that I cannot yield my power to please these foolish flowers."
Then Violet hung the wreath above the throne, and with weary foot
went forth again, out into the cold, dark gardens, and still the
golden shadows followed her, and wherever they fell, flowers bloomed
and green leaves rustled.
Then came the Frost-Spirits, and beneath their cold wings the
flowers died, while the Spirits bore Violet to a low, dark cell,
saying as they left her, that their King was angry that she had dared
to stay when he had bid her go.
So all alone she sat, and sad thoughts of her happy home came back
to her, and she wept bitterly. But soon came visions of the gentle
flowers dying in their forest homes, and their voices ringing
in her ear, imploring her to save them. Then she wept no longer,
but patiently awaited what might come.
Soon the golden light gleamed faintly through the cell, and she heard
little voices calling for help, and high up among the heavy cobwebs
hung poor little flies struggling to free themselves, while their
cruel enemies sat in their nets, watching their pain.
With her wand the Fairy broke the bands that held them, tenderly bound
up their broken wings, and healed their wounds; while they lay in the
warm light, and feebly hummed their thanks to their kind deliverer.
Then she went to the ugly brown spiders, and in gentle words
told them, how in Fairy Land their kindred spun all the elfin cloth,
and in return the Fairies gave them food, and then how happily they
lived among the green leaves, spinning garments for their neigbbors.
"And you too," said she, "shall spin for me, and I will give you
better food than helpless insects. You shall live in peace,
and spin your delicate threads into a mantle for the stern King;
and I will weave golden threads amid the gray, that when folded over
his cold heart gentle thoughts may enter in and make it their home.
And while she gayly sung, the little weavers spun their silken
threads, the flies on glittering wings flew lovingly above her head,
and over all the golden light shone softly down.
When the Frost-Spirits told their King, he greatly wondered and
often stole to look at the sunny little room where friends and enemies
worked peacefully together. Still the light grew brighter, and
floated out into the cold air, where it hung like bright clouds
above the dreary gardens, whence all the Spirits' power could not
drive it; and green leaves budded on the naked trees, and
flowers bloomed; but the Spirits heaped snow upon them, and
they bowed their heads and died.
At length the mantle was finished, and amid the gray threads
shone golden ones, making it bright; and she sent it to the King,
entreating him to wear it, for it would bring peace and love
to dwell within his breast.
But he scornfully threw it aside, and bade his Spirits take her
to a colder cell, deep in the earth; and there with harsh words
they left her.
Still she sang gayly on, and the falling drops kept time so musically,
that the King in his cold ice-halls wondered at the low, sweet sounds
that came stealing up to him.
Thus Violet dwelt, and each day the golden light grew stronger; and
from among the crevices of the rocky walls came troops of little
velvet-coated moles, praying that they might listen to the sweet
music, and lie in the warm light.
"We lead," said they, "a dreary life in the cold earth; the
flower-roots are dead, and no soft dews descend for us to drink,
no little seed or leaf can we find. Ah, good Fairy, let us be
your servants: give us but a few crumbs of your daily bread, and we
will do all in our power to serve you."
And Violet said, Yes; so day after day they labored to make
a pathway through the frozen earth, that she might reach the roots
of the withered flowers; and soon, wherever through the dark galleries
she went, the soft light fell upon the roots of flowers, and they
with new life spread forth in the warm ground, and forced fresh sap
to the blossoms above. Brightly they bloomed and danced in the
soft light, and the Frost-Spirits tried in vain to harm them, for when
they came beneath the bright clouds their power to do evil left them.
>From his dark castle the King looked out on the happy flowers,
who nodded gayly to him, and in sweet colors strove to tell him
of the good little Spirit, who toiled so faithfully below,
that they might live. And when he turned from the brightness without,
to his stately palace, it seemcd so cold and dreary, that he folded
Violet's mantle round him, and sat beneath the faded wreath upon his
ice-carved throne, wondering at the strange warmth that came from it;
till at length he bade his Spirits bring the little Fairy from
her dismal prison.
Soon they came hastening back, and prayed him to come and see
how lovely the dark cell had grown. The rough floor was spread
with deep green moss, and over wall and roof grew flowery vines,
filling the air with their sweet breath; while above played the clear,
soft light, casting rosy shadows on the glittering drops that lay
among the fragrant leaves; and beneath the vines stood Violet,
casting crumbs to the downy little moles who ran fearlessly about
and listened as she sang to them.
When the old King saw how much fairer she had made the dreary cell
than his palace rooms, gentle thoughts within whispered him to grant
her prayer, and let the little Fairy go back to her friends and home;
but the Frost-Spirits breathed upon the flowers and bid him see how
frail they were, and useless to a King. Then the stern, cold thoughts
came back again, and he harshly bid her follow him.
With a sad farewell to her little friends she followed him, and
before the throne awaited his command. When the King saw how pale and
sad the gentle face had grown, how thin her robe, and weak her wings,
and yet how lovingly the golden shadows fell around her and brightened
as they lay upon the wand, which, guided by patient love, had made
his once desolate home so bright, he could not be cruel to the one
who had done so much for him, and in kindly tone he said,--
"Little Fairy, I offer you two things, and you may choose
between them. If I will vow never more to harm the flowers you may
love, will you go back to your own people and leave me and my Spirits
to work our will on all the other flowers that bloom? The earth
is broad, and we can find them in any land, then why should you care
what happens to their kindred if your own are safe? Will you do this?"
"Ah!" answered Violet sadly, "do you not know that beneath
the flowers' bright leaves there beats a little heart that loves
and sorrows like our own? And can I, heedless of their beauty,
doom them to pain and grief, that I might save my own dear blossoms
from the cruel foes to which I leave them? Ah no! sooner would I
dwell for ever in your darkest cell, than lose the love of those
warm, trusting hearts."
"Then listen," said the King, "to the task I give you. You shall
raise up for me a palace fairer than this, and if you can work
that miracle I will grant your prayer or lose my kingly crown.
And now go forth, and begin your task; my Spirits shall not harm you,
and I will wait till it is done before I blight another flower."
Then out into the gardens went Violet with a heavy heart; for
she had toiled so long, her strength was nearly gone. But the
flowers whispered their gratitude, and folded their leaves as if they
blessed her; and when she saw the garden filled with loving friends,
who strove to cheer and thank her for her care, courage and strength
returned; and raising up thick clouds of mist, that hid her from the
wondering flowers, alone and trustingly she began her work.
As time went by, the Frost-King feared the task had been
too hard for the Fairy; sounds were heard behind the walls of mist,
bright shadows seen to pass within, but the little voice was never
heard. Meanwhile the golden light had faded from the garden,
the flowers bowed their heads, and all was dark and cold as when
the gentle Fairy came.
And to the stern King his home seemed more desolate and sad; for
he missed the warm light, the happy flowers, and, more than all,
the gay voice and bright face of little Violet. So he wandered
through his dreary palace, wondering how he had been content
to live before without sunlight and love.
And little Violet was mourned as dead in Fairy-Land, and many tears
were shed, for the gentle Fairy was beloved by all, from the Queen
down to the humblest flower. Sadly they watched over every bird
and blossom which she had loved, and strove to be like her in
kindly words and deeds. They wore cypress wreaths, and spoke of her
as one whom they should never see again.
Thus they dwelt in deepest sorrow, till one day there came to them an
unknown messenger, wrapped in a dark mantle, who looked with wondering
eyes on the bright palace, and flower-crowned elves, who kindly
welcomed him, and brought fresh dew and rosy fruit to refresh the
weary stranger. Then he told them that he came from the Frost-King,
who begged the Queen and all her subjects to come and see the palace
little Violet had built; for the veil of mist would soon be withdrawn,
and as she could not make a fairer home than the ice-castle, the King
wished her kindred near to comfort and to bear her home. And while
the Elves wept, he told them how patiently she had toiled, how
her fadeless love had made the dark cell bright and beautiful.
These and many other things he told them; for little Violet had won
the love of many of the Frost-Spirits, and even when they killed the
flowers she had toiled so hard to bring to life and beauty, she spoke
gentle words to them, and sought to teach them how beautiful is love.
Long stayed the messenger, and deeper grew his wonder that the Fairy
could have left so fair a home, to toil in the dreary palace of his
cruel master, and suffer cold and weariness, to give life and joy to
the weak and sorrowing. When the Elves had promised they would come,
he bade farewell to happy Fairy-Land, and flew sadly home.
At last the time arrived, and out in his barren garden, under a canopy
of dark clouds, sat the Frost-King before the misty wall, behind which
were heard low, sweet sounds, as of rustling trees and warbling birds.
Soon through the air came many-colored troops of Elves. First the
Queen, known by the silver lilies on her snowy robe and the bright
crown in her hair, beside whom flew a band of Elves in crimson and
gold, making sweet music on their flower-trumpets, while all around,
with smiling faces and bright eyes, fluttered her loving subjects.
On they came, like a flock of brilliant butterflies, their shining
wings and many-colored garments sparkling in the dim air; and soon
the leafless trees were gay with living flowers, and their sweet
voices filled the gardens with music. Like his subjects, the King
looked on the lovely Elves, and no longer wondered that little Violet
wept and longed for her home. Darker and more desolate seemed his
stately home, and when the Fairies asked for flowers, he felt ashamed
that he had none to give them.
At length a warm wind swept through the gardens, and the mist-clouds
passed away, while in silent wonder looked the Frost-King and
the Elves upon the scene before them.
Far as eye could reach were tall green trees whose drooping boughs
made graceful arches, through which the golden light shone softly,
making bright shadows on the deep green moss below, where the fairest
flowers waved in the cool wind, and sang, in their low, sweet voices,
how beautiful is Love.
Flowering vines folded their soft leaves around the trees,
making green pillars of their rough trunks. Fountains threw their
bright waters to the roof, and flocks of silver-winged birds flew
singing among the flowers, or brooded lovingly above their nests.
Doves with gentle eyes cooed among the green leaves, snow-white clouds
floated in the sunny shy, and the golden light, brighter than before,
shone softly down.
Soon through the long aisles came Violet, flowers and green leaves
rustling as she passed. On she went to the Frost-King's throne,
bearing two crowns, one of sparkling icicles, the other of pure
white lilies, and kneeling before him, said,--
"My task is done, and, thanks to the Spirits of earth and air, I have
made as fair a home as Elfin hands can form. You must now decide.
Will you be King of Flower-Land, and own my gentle kindred for your
loving friends? Will you possess unfading peace and joy, and the
grateful love of all the green earth's fragrant children? Then take
this crown of flowers. But if you can find no pleasure here,
go back to your own cold home, and dwell in solitude and darkness,
where no ray of sunlight or of joy can enter.
"Send forth your Spirits to carry sorrow and desolation over
the happy earth, and win for yourself the fear and hatred of those
who would so gladly love and reverence you. Then take this glittering
crown, hard and cold as your own heart will be, if you will shut out
all that is bright and beautiful. Both are before you. Choose."
The old King looked at the little Fairy, and saw how lovingly
the bright shadows gathered round her, as if to shield her
from every harm; the timid birds nestled in her bosom, and the
flowers grew fairer as she looked upon them; while her gentle friends,
with tears in their bright eyes, folded their hands beseechingly,
and smiled on her.
Kind thought came thronging to his mind, and he turned to look at
the two palaces. Violet's, so fair and beautiful, with its rustling
trees, calm, sunny skies, and happy birds and flowers, all created
by her patient love and care. His own, so cold and dark and dreary,
his empty gardens where no flowers could bloom, no green trees dwell,
or gay birds sing, all desolate and dim;--and while he gazed, his own
Spirits, casting off their dark mantles, knelt before him and besought
him not to send them forth to blight the things the gentle Fairies
loved so much. "We have served you long and faithfully," said they,
"give us now our freedom, that we may learn to be beloved by the sweet
flowers we have harmed so long. Grant the little Fairy's prayer;
and let her go back to her own dear home. She has taught us that
Love is mightier than Fear. Choose the Flower crown, and we will be
the truest subjects you have ever had."
Then, amid a burst of wild, sweet music, the Frost-King placed
the Flower crown on his head, and knelt to little Violet; while far
and near, over the broad green earth, sounded the voices of flowers,
singing their thanks to the gentle Fairy, and the summer wind
was laden with perfumes, which they sent as tokens of their gratitude;
and wherever she went, old trees bent down to fold their slender
branches round her, flowers laid their soft faces against her own,
and whispered blessings; even the humble moss bent over the little
feet, and kissed them as they passed.
The old King, surrounded by the happy Fairies, sat in Violet's
lovely home, and watched his icy castle melt away beneath the bright
sunlight; while his Spirits, cold and gloomy no longer, danced
with the Elves, and waited on their King with loving eagerness.
Brighter grew the golden light, gayer sang the birds, and the
harmonious voices of grateful flowers, sounding over the earth,
carried new joy to all their gentle kindred.
Brighter shone the golden shadows;
On the cool wind softly came
The low, sweet tones of happy flowers,
Singing little Violet's name.
'Mong the green trees was it whispered,
And the bright waves bore it on
To the lonely forest flowers,
Where the glad news had not gone.
Thus the Frost-King lost his kingdom,
And his power to harm and blight.
Violet conquered, and his cold heart
Warmed with music, love, and light;
And his fair home, once so dreary,
Gay with lovely Elves and flowers,
Brought a joy that never faded
Through the long bright summer hours.
Thus, by Violet's magic power,
All dark shadows passed away,
And o'er the home of happy flowers
The golden light for ever lay.
Thus the Fairy mission ended,
And all Flower-Land was taught
The "Power of Love," by gentle deeds
That little Violet wrought.
As Sunny Lock ceased, another little Elf came forward; and this was
the tale "Silver Wing" told.
EVA'S VISIT TO FAIRY-LAND.
DOWN among the grass and fragrant clover lay little Eva by the
brook-side, watching the bright waves, as they went singing by under
the drooping flowers that grew on its banks. As she was wondering
where the waters went, she heard a faint, low sound, as of far-off
music. She thought it was the wind, but not a leaf was stirring,
and soon through the rippling water came a strange little boat.
It was a lily of the valley, whose tall stem formed the mast,
while the broad leaves that rose from the roots, and drooped again
till they reached the water, were filled with gay little Elves,
who danced to the music of the silver lily-bells above, that rang
a merry peal, and filled the air with their fragrant breath.
On came the fairy boat, till it reached a moss-grown rock; and here
it stopped, while the Fairies rested beneath the violet-leaves,
and sang with the dancing waves.
Eva looked with wonder on their gay faces and bright garments, and
in the joy of her heart sang too, and threw crimson fruit for the
little folks to feast upon.
They looked kindly on the child, and, after whispering long among
themselves, two little bright-eyed Elves flew over the shining water,
and, lighting on the clover-blossoms, said gently, "Little maiden,
many thanks for your kindness; and our Queen bids us ask if you will
go with us to Fairy-Land, and learn what we can teach you."
"Gladly would I go with you, dear Fairies," said Eva, "but I cannot
sail in your little boat. See! I can hold you in my hand, and could
not live among you without harming your tiny kingdom, I am so large."
Then the Elves laughed gayly, as they folded their arms about her,
saying, "You are a good child, dear Eva, to fear doing harm to those
weaker than yourself. You cannot hurt us now. Look in the water
and see what we have done."
Eva looked into the brook, and saw a tiny child standing between
the Elves. "Now I can go with you," said she, "but see, I can
no longer step from the bank to yonder stone, for the brook seems now
like a great river, and you have not given me wings like yours."
But the Fairies took each a hand, and flew lightly over the stream.
The Queen and her subjects came to meet her, and all seemed glad to
say some kindly word of welcome to the little stranger. They placed
a flower-crown upon her head, laid their soft faces against her own,
and soon it seemed as if the gentle Elves had always been her friends.
"Now must we go home," said the Queen, "and you shall go with us,
Then there was a great bustle, as they flew about on shining wings,
some laying cushions of violet leaves in the boat, others folding the
Queen's veil and mantle more closely round her, lest the falling dews
should chill her.
The cool waves' gentle plashing against the boat, and the sweet chime
of the lily-bells, lulled little Eva to sleep, and when she woke
it was in Fairy-Land. A faint, rosy light, as of the setting sun,
shone on the white pillars of the Queen's palace as they passed in,
and the sleeping flowers leaned gracefully on their stems, dreaming
beneath their soft green curtains. All was cool and still, and the
Elves glided silently about, lest they should break their slumbers.
They led Eva to a bed of pure white leaves, above which drooped
the fragrant petals of a crimson rose.
"You can look at the bright colors till the light fades, and then
the rose will sing you to sleep," said the Elves, as they folded the
soft leaves about her, gently kissed her, and stole away.
Long she lay watching the bright shadows, and listening to the song
of the rose, while through the long night dreams of lovely things
floated like bright clouds through her mind; while the rose bent
lovingly above her, and sang in the clear moonlight.
With the sun rose the Fairies, and, with Eva, hastened away to
the fountain, whose cool waters were soon filled with little forms,
and the air ringing with happy voices, as the Elves floated in the
blue waves among the fair white lilies, or sat on the green moss,
smoothing their bright locks, and wearing fresh garlands of dewy
flowers. At length the Queen came forth, and her subjects gathered
round her, and while the flowers bowed their heads, and the trees
hushed their rustling, the Fairies sang their morning hymn to
the Father of birds and blossoms, who had made the earth so fair a
home for them.
Then they flew away to the gardens, and soon, high up among the
tree-tops, or under the broad leaves, sat the Elves in little groups,
taking their breakfast of fruit and pure fresh dew; while the
bright-winged birds came fearlessly among them, pecking the same
ripe berries, and dipping their little beaks in the same flower-cups,
and the Fairies folded their arms lovingly about them, smoothed their
soft bosoms, and gayly sang to them.
"Now, little Eva," said they, "you will see that Fairies are not
idle, wilful Spirits, as mortals believe. Come, we will show you
what we do."
They led her to a lovely room, through whose walls of deep green
leaves the light stole softly in. Here lay many wounded insects,
and harmless little creatures, whom cruel hands had hurt; and pale,
drooping flowers grew beside urns of healing herbs, from whose fresh
leaves came a faint, sweet perfume.
Eva wondered, but silently followed her guide, little Rose-Leaf,
who with tender words passed among the delicate blossoms,
pouring dew on their feeble roots, cheering them with her loving words
and happy smile.
Then she went to the insects; first to a little fly who lay in a
"Do you suffer much, dear Gauzy-Wing?" asked the Fairy. "I will
bind up your poor little leg, and Zephyr shall rock you to sleep."
So she folded the cool leaves tenderly about the poor fly, bathed his
wings, and brought him refreshing drink, while he hummed his thanks,
and forgot his pain, as Zephyr softly sung and fanned him with her
They passed on, and Eva saw beside each bed a Fairy, who with gentle
hands and loving words soothed the suffering insects. At length
they stopped beside a bee, who lay among sweet honeysuckle flowers,
in a cool, still place, where the summer wind blew in, and the green
leaves rustled pleasantly. Yet he seemed to find no rest, and
murmured of the pain he was doomed to bear. "Why must I lie here,
while my kindred are out in the pleasant fields, enjoying the sunlight
and the fresh air, and cruel hands have doomed me to this dark place
and bitter pain when I have done no wrong? Uncared for and forgotten,
I must stay here among these poor things who think only of themselves.
Come here, Rose-Leaf, and bind up my wounds, for I am far more useful
than idle bird or fly."
Then said the Fairy, while she bathed the broken wing,--
"Love-Blossom, you should not murmur. We may find happiness in
seeking to be patient even while we suffer. You are not forgotten or
uncared for, but others need our care more than you, and to those
who take cheerfully the pain and sorrow sent, do we most gladly give
our help. You need not be idle, even though lying here in darkness
and sorrow; you can be taking from your heart all sad and discontented
feelings, and if love and patience blossom there, you will be better
for the lonely hours spent here. Look on the bed beside you; this
little dove has suffered far greater pain than you, and all our care
can never ease it; yet through the long days he hath lain here, not an
unkind word or a repining sigh hath he uttered. Ah, Love-Blossom,
the gentle bird can teach a lesson you will be wiser and better for."
Then a faint voice whispered, "Little Rose-Leaf, come quickly, or
I cannot thank you as I ought for all your loving care of me."
So they passed to the bed beside the discontented bee, and here upon
the softest down lay the dove, whose gentle eyes looked gratefully
upon the Fairy, as she knelt beside the little couch, smoothed the
soft white bosom, folded her arms about it and wept sorrowing tears,
while the bird still whispered its gratitude and love.
"Dear Fairy, the fairest flowers have cheered me with their sweet
breath, fresh dew and fragrant leaves have been ever ready for me,
gentle hands to tend, kindly hearts to love; and for this I can only
thank you and say farewell."
Then the quivering wings were still, and the patient little dove
was dead; but the bee murmured no longer, and the dew from the flowers
fell like tears around the quiet bed.
Sadly Rose-Leaf led Eva away, saying, "Lily-Bosom shall have a grave
tonight beneath our fairest blossoms, and you shall see that
gentleness and love are prized far above gold or beauty, here in
Fairy-Land. Come now to the Flower Palace, and see the Fairy Court."
Beneath green arches, bright with birds and flowers, beside singing
waves, went Eva into a lofty hall. The roof of pure white lilies
rested on pillars of green clustering vines, while many-colored
blossoms threw their bright shadows on the walls, as they danced below
in the deep green moss, and their low, sweet voices sounded softly
through the sunlit palace, while the rustling leaves kept time.
Beside the throne stood Eva, and watched the lovely forms around her,
as they stood, each little band in its own color, with glistening
wings, and flower wands.
Suddenly the music grew louder and sweeter, and the Fairies knelt,
and bowed their heads, as on through the crowd of loving subjects
came the Queen, while the air was filled with gay voices singing
to welcome her.
She placed the child beside her, saying, "Little Eva, you shall see
now how the flowers on your great earth bloom so brightly. A band
of loving little gardeners go daily forth from Fairy-Land, to tend
and watch them, that no harm may befall the gentle spirits that dwell
beneath their leaves. This is never known, for like all good it is
unseen by mortal eyes, and unto only pure hearts like yours do we
make known our secret. The humblest flower that grows is visited by
our messengers, and often blooms in fragrant beauty unknown, unloved
by all save Fairy friends, who seek to fill the spirits with all sweet
and gentle virtues, that they may not be useless on the earth; for the
noblest mortals stoop to learn of flowers. Now, Eglantine, what have
you to tell us of your rosy namesakes on the earth?"
>From a group of Elves, whose rose-wreathed wands showed the flower
they loved, came one bearing a tiny urn, and, answering the Queen,
"Over hill and valley they are blooming fresh and fair as summer sun
and dew can make them. No drooping stem or withered leaf tells of any
evil thought within their fragrant bosoms, and thus from the fairest
of their race have they gathered this sweet dew, as a token of their
gratitude to one whose tenderness and care have kept them pure and
happy; and this, the loveliest of their sisters, have I brought to
place among the Fairy flowers that never pass away."
Eglantine laid the urn before the Queen, and placed the fragrant rose
on the dewy moss beside the throne, while a murmur of approval went
through the hall, as each elfin wand waved to the little Fairy
who had toiled so well and faithful]y, and could bring so fair a gift
to their good Queen.
Then came forth an Elf bearing a withered leaf, while her many-colored
robe and the purple tulips in her hair told her name and charge.
"Dear Queen," she sadly said, "I would gladly bring as pleasant
tidings as my sister, but, alas! my flowers are proud and wilful,
and when I went to gather my little gift of colored leaves for royal
garments, they bade me bring this withered blossom, and tell you
they would serve no longer one who will not make them Queen over all
the other flowers. They would yield neither dew nor honey, but
proudly closed their leaves and bid me go."
"Your task has been too hard for you," said the Queen kindly, as she
placed the drooping flower in the urn Eglantine had given, "you will
see how this dew from a sweet, pure heart will give new life and
loveliness even to this poor faded one. So can you, dear Rainbow, by
loving words and gentle teachings, bring back lost purity and peace
to those whom pride and selfishness have blighted. Go once again
to the proud flowers, and tell them when they are queen of their own
hearts they will ask no fairer kingdom. Watch more tenderly than ever
over them, see that they lack neither dew nor air, speak lovingly
to them, and let no unkind word or deed of theirs anger you. Let them
see by your patient love and care how much fairer they might be,
and when next you come, you will be laden with gifts from humble,
Thus they told what they had done, and received from their Queen some
gentle chiding or loving word of praise.
"You will be weary of this," said little Rose-Leaf to Eva; "come now
and see where we are taught to read the tales written on flower-
leaves, and the sweet language of the birds, and all that can make
a Fairy heart wiser and better."
Then into a cheerful place they went, where were many groups of
flowers, among whose leaves sat the child Elves, and learned from
their flower-books all that Fairy hands had written there. Some
studied how to watch the tender buds, when to spread them to the
sunlight, and when to shelter them from rain; how to guard the
ripening seeds, and when to lay them in the warm earth or send them
on the summer wind to far off hills and valleys, where other Fairy
hands would tend and cherish them, till a sisterhood of happy flowers
sprang up to beautify and gladden the lonely spot where they had
fallen. Others learned to heal the wounded insects, whose frail limbs
a breeze could shatter, and who, were it not for Fairy hands, would
die ere half their happy summer life had gone. Some learned how by
pleasant dreams to cheer and comfort mortal hearts, by whispered words
of love to save from evil deeds those who had gone astray, to fill
young hearts with gentle thoughts and pure affections, that no sin
might mar the beauty of the human flower; while others, like mortal
children, learned the Fairy alphabet. Thus the Elves made loving
friends by care and love, and no evil thing could harm them, for
those they helped to cherish and protect ever watched to shield and
Eva nodded to the gay little ones, as they peeped from among the
leaves at the stranger, and then she listened to the Fairy lessons.
Several tiny Elves stood on a broad leaf while the teacher sat
among the petals of a flower that bent beside them, and asked
questions that none but Fairies would care to know.
"Twinkle, if there lay nine seeds within a flower-cup and the wind
bore five away, how many would the blossom have?" "Four," replied the
"Rosebud, if a Cowslip opens three leaves in one day and four the
next, how many rosy leaves will there be when the whole flower
"Seven," sang the gay little Elf.
"Harebell, if a silkworm spin one yard of Fairy cloth in an hour,
how many will it spin in a day?"
"Twelve," said the Fairy child.
"Primrose, where lies Violet Island?"
"In the Lake of Ripples."
"Lilla, you may bound Rose Land."
"On the north by Ferndale, south by Sunny Wave River, east by the hill
of Morning Clouds, and west by the Evening Star."
"Now, little ones," said the teacher, "you may go to your painting,
that our visitor may see how we repair the flowers that earthly hands
Then Eva saw how, on large, white leaves, the Fairies learned to
imitate the lovely colors, and with tiny brushes to brighten the blush
on the anemone's cheek, to deepen the blue of the violet's eye, and
add new light to the golden cowslip.
"You have stayed long enough," said the Elves at length, "we have
many things to show you. Come now and see what is our dearest work."
So Eva said farewell to the child Elves, and hastened with little
Rose-Leaf to the gates. Here she saw many bands of Fairies, folded in
dark mantles that mortals might not know them, who, with the child
among them, flew away over hill and valley. Some went to the cottages
amid the hills, some to the sea-side to watch above the humble fisher
folks; but little Rose-Leaf and many others went into the noisy city.
Eva wondered within herself what good the tiny Elves could do in this
great place; but she soon learned, for the Fairy band went among the
poor and friendless, bringing pleasant dreams to the sick and old,
sweet, tender thoughts of love and gentleness to the young, strength
to the weak, and patient cheerfulness to the poor and lonely.
Then the child wondered no longer, but deeper grew her love
for the tender-hearted Elves, who left their own happy home to cheer
and comfort those who never knew what hands had clothed and fed them,
what hearts had given of their own joy, and brought such happiness
Long they stayed, and many a lesson little Eva learned: but when
she begged them to go back, they still led her on, saying, "Our work
is not yet done; shall we leave so many sad hearts when we may
cheer them, so many dark homes that we may brighten? We must stay
yet longer, little Eva, and you may learn yet more."
Then they went into a dark and lonely room, and here they found
a pale, sad-eyed child, who wept bitter tears over a faded flower.
"Ah," sighed the little one, "it was my only friend, and I
cherished it with all my lone heart's love; 't was all that made
my sad life happy; and it is gone."
Tenderly the child fastened the drooping stem, and placed it
where the one faint ray of sunlight stole into the dreary room.
"Do you see," said the Elves, "through this simple flower will we
keep the child pure and stainless amid the sin and sorrow around her.
The love of this shall lead her on through temptation and through
grief, and she shall be a spirit of joy and consolation to the sinful
and the sorrowing."
And with busy love toiled the Elves amid the withered leaves,
and new strength was given to the flower; while, as day by day the
friendless child watered the growing buds, deeper grew her love for
the unseen friends who had given her one thing to cherish in her
lonely home; sweet, gentle thoughts filled her heart as she bent
above it, and the blossom's fragrant breath was to her a whispered
voice of all fair and lovely things; and as the flower taught her,
so she taught others.
The loving Elves brought her sweet dreams by night, and happy thoughts
by day, and as she grew in childlike beauty, pure and patient amid
poverty and sorrow, the sinful were rebuked, sorrowing hearts grew
light, and the weak and selfish forgot their idle fears, when they saw
her trustingly live on with none to aid or comfort her. The love
she bore the tender flower kept her own heart innocent and bright,
and the pure human flower was a lesson to those who looked upon it;
and soon the gloomy house was bright with happy hearts, that learned
of the gentle child to bear poverty and grief as she had done, to
forgive those who brought care and wrong to them, and to seek for
happiness in humble deeds of charity and love.
"Our work is done," whispered the Elves, and with blessings on the
two fair flowers, they flew away to other homes;--to a blind old man
who dwelt alone with none to love him, till through long years of
darkness and of silent sorrow the heart within had grown dim and cold.
No sunlight could enter at the darkened eyes, and none were near
to whisper gentle words, to cheer and comfort.
Thus he dwelt forgotten and alone, seeking to give no joy to others,
possessing none himself. Life was dark and sad till the untiring
Elves came to his dreary home, bringing sunlight and love. They
whispered sweet words of comfort,--how, if the darkened eyes could
find no light without, within there might be never-failing happiness;
gentle feelings and sweet, loving thoughts could make the heart fair,
if the gloomy, selfish sorrow were but cast away, and all would be
bright and beautiful.
They brought light-hearted children, who gathered round him, making
the desolate home fair with their young faces, and his sad heart gay
with their sweet, childish voices. The love they bore he could not
cast away, sunlight stole in, the dark thoughts passed away, and the
earth was a pleasant home to him.
Thus their little hands led him back to peace and happiness,
flowers bloomed beside his door, and their fragrant breath brought
happy thoughts of pleasant valleys and green hills; birds sang to him,
and their sweet voices woke the music in his own soul, that never
failed to calm and comfort. Happy sounds were heard in his once
lonely home, and bright faces gathered round his knee, and listened
tenderly while he strove to tell them all the good that gentleness and
love had done for him.
Still the Elves watched near, and brighter grew the heart as kindly
thoughts and tender feelings entered in, and made it their home;
and when the old man fell asleep, above his grave little feet trod
lightly, and loving hands laid fragrant flowers.
Then went the Elves into the dreary prison-houses, where sad hearts
pined in lonely sorrow for the joy and freedom they had lost. To
these came the loving band with tender words, telling of the peace
they yet might win by patient striving and repentant tears, thus
waking in their bosoms all the holy feelings and sweet affections
that had slept so long.
They told pleasant tales, and sang their sweetest songs to cheer and
gladden, while the dim cells grew bright with the sunlight, and
fragrant with the flowers the loving Elves had brought, and by their
gentle teachings those sad, despairing hearts were filled with patient
hope and earnest longing to win back their lost innocence and joy.
Thus to all who needed help or comfort went the faithful Fairies; and
when at length they turned towards Fairy-Land, many were the grateful,
happy hearts they left behind.
Then through the summer sky, above the blossoming earth, they
journeyed home, happier for the joy they had given, wiser for the good
they had done.
All Fairy-Land was dressed in flowers, and the soft wind went singing
by, laden with their fragrant breath. Sweet music sounded through the
air, and troops of Elves in their gayest robes hastened to the palace
where the feast was spread.
Soon the bright hall was filled with smiling faces and fair forms, and
little Eva, as she stood beside the Queen, thought she had never seen
a sight so lovely.
The many-colored shadows of the fairest flowers played on the pure
white walls, and fountains sparkled in the sunlight, making music
as the cool waves rose and fell, while to and fro, with waving wings
and joyous voices, went the smiling Elves, bearing fruit and honey,
or fragrant garlands for each other's hair.
Long they feasted, gayly they sang, and Eva, dancing merrily
among them, longed to be an Elf that she might dwell forever
in so fair a home.
At length the music ceased, and the Queen said, as she laid her hand
on little Eva's shining hair:--
"Dear child, tomorrow we must bear you home, for, much as we long
to keep you, it were wrong to bring such sorrow to your loving earthly
friends; therefore we will guide you to the brook-side, and there say
farewell till you come again to visit us. Nay, do not weep, dear
Rose-Leaf; you shall watch over little Eva's flowers, and when she
looks at them she will think of you. Come now and lead her to the
Fairy garden, and show her what we think our fairest sight. Weep
no more, but strive to make her last hours with us happy as you can."
With gentle caresses and most tender words the loving Elves gathered
about the child, and, with Rose-Leaf by her side, they led her through
the palace, and along green, winding paths, till Eva saw what seemed
a wall of flowers rising before her, while the air was filled with the
most fragrant odors, and the low, sweet music as of singing blossoms.
"Where have you brought me, and what mean these lovely sounds?"
"Look here, and you shall see," said Rose-Leaf, as she bent aside
the vines, "but listen silently or you cannot hear."
Then Eva, looking through the drooping vines, beheld a garden filled
with the loveliest flowers; fair as were all the blossoms she had seen
in Fairy-Land, none were so beautiful as these. The rose glowed
with a deeper crimson, the lily's soft leaves were more purely white,
the crocus and humble cowslip shone like sunlight, and the violet
was blue as the sky that smiled above it.
"How beautiful they are," whispered Eva, "but, dear Rose-Leaf, why
do you keep them here, and why call you this your fairest sight?"
"Look again, and I will tell you," answered the Fairy.
Eva looked, and saw from every flower a tiny form come forth to
welcome the Elves, who all, save Rose-Leaf, had flown above the wall,
and were now scattering dew upon the flowers' bright leaves and
talking gayly with the Spirits, who gathered around them, and seemed
full of joy that they had come. The child saw that each one wore the
colors of the flower that was its home. Delicate and graceful were
the little forms, bright the silken hair that fell about each lovely
face; and Eva heard the low, sweet murmur of their silvery voices and
the rustle of their wings. She gazed in silent wonder, forgetting she
knew not who they were, till the Fairy said,--
"These are the spirits of the flowers, and this the Fairy Home where
those whose hearts were pure and loving on the earth come to bloom in
fadeless beauty here, when their earthly life is past. The humblest
flower that blooms has a home with us, for outward beauty is a
worthless thing if all be not fair and sweet within. Do you see
yonder lovely spirit singing with my sister Moonlight? a clover
blossom was her home, and she dwelt unknown, unloved; yet patient and
content, bearing cheerfully the sorrows sent her. We watched and saw
how fair and sweet the humble flower grew, and then gladly bore her
here, to blossom with the lily and the rose. The flowers' lives
are often short, for cruel hands destroy them; therefore is it our
greatest joy to bring them hither, where no careless foot or wintry
wind can harm them, where they bloom in quiet beauty, repaying our
care by their love and sweetest perfumes."
"I will never break another flower," cried Eva; "but let me go
to them, dear Fairy; I would gladly know the lovely spirits, and ask
forgiveness for the sorrow I have caused. May I not go in?"
"Nay, dear Eva, you are a mortal child, and cannot enter here; but I
will tell them of the kind little maiden who has learned to love them,
and they will remember you when you are gone. Come now, for you have
seen enough, and we must be away."
On a rosy morning cloud, surrounded by the loving Elves, went Eva
through the sunny sky. The fresh wind bore them gently on, and soon
they stood again beside the brook, whose waves danced brightly as if
to welcome them.
"Now, ere we say farewell," said the Queen, as they gathered nearer
to the child, "tell me, dear Eva, what among all our Fairy gifts
will make you happiest, and it shall be yours."
"You good little Fairies," said Eva, folding them in her arms, for
she was no longer the tiny child she had been in Fairy-Land, "you dear
good little Elves, what can I ask of you, who have done so much
to make me happy, and taught me so many good and gentle lessons,
the memory of which will never pass away? I can only ask of you the
power to be as pure and gentle as yourselves, as tender and loving
to the weak and sorrowing, as untiring in kindly deeds to all. Grant
me this gift, and you shall see that little Eva has not forgotten
what you have taught her."
"The power shall be yours," said the Elves, and laid their soft hands
on her head; "we will watch over you in dreams, and when you would have
tidings of us, ask the flowers in your garden, and they will tell you
all you would know. Farewell. Remember Fairy-Land and all your
They clung about her tenderly, and little Rose-Leaf placed a flower
crown on her head, whispering softly, "When you would come to us
again, stand by the brook-side and wave this in the air, and we will
gladly take you to our home again. Farewell, dear Eva. Think of your
little Rose-Leaf when among the flowers."
Long Eva watched their shining wings, and listened to the music of
their voices as they flew singing home, and when at length the last
little form had vanished among the clouds, she saw that all around her
where the Elves had been, the fairest flowers had sprung up, and the
lonely brook-side was a blooming garden.
Thus she stood among the waving blossoms, with the Fairy garland in
her hair, and happy feelings in her heart, better and wiser for her
visit to Fairy-Land.
"Now, Star-Twinkle, what have you to teach?" asked the Queen.
"Nothing but a little song I heard the hare-bells singing," replied
the Fairy, and, taking her harp, sang, in a low, sweet voice:--
THE FLOWER'S LESSON.
THERE grew a fragrant rose-tree where the brook flows,
With two little tender buds, and one full rose;
When the sun went down to his bed in the west,
The little buds leaned on the rose-mother's breast,
While the bright eyed stars their long watch kept,
And the flowers of the valley in their green cradles slept;
Then silently in odors they communed with each other,
The two little buds on the bosom of their mother.
"O sister," said the little one, as she gazed at the sky,
"I wish that the Dew Elves, as they wander lightly by,
Would bring me a star; for they never grow dim,
And the Father does not need them to burn round him.
The shining drops of dew the Elves bring each day
And place in my bosom, so soon pass away;
But a star would glitter brightly through the long summer hours,
And I should be fairer than all my sister flowers.
That were better far than the dew-drops that fall
On the high and the low, and come alike to all.
I would be fair and stately, with a bright star to shine
And give a queenly air to this crimson robe of mine."
And proudly she cried, "These fire-flies shall be
My jewels, since the stars can never come to me."
Just then a tiny dew-drop that hung o'er the dell
On the breast of the bud like a soft star fell;
But impatiently she flung it away from her leaf,
And it fell on her mother like a tear of grief,
While she folded to her breast, with wilful pride,
A glittering fire-fly that hung by her side.
"Heed," said the mother rose, "daughter mine,
Why shouldst thou seek for beauty not thine?
The Father hath made thee what thou now art;
And what he most loveth is a sweet, pure heart.
Then why dost thou take with such discontent
The loving gift which he to thee hath sent?
For the cool fresh dew will render thee far
More lovely and sweet than the brightest star;
They were made for Heaven, and can never come to shine
Like the fire-fly thou hast in that foolish breast of thine.
O my foolish little bud, do listen to thy mother;
Care only for true beauty, and seek for no other.
There will be grief and trouble in that wilful little heart;
Unfold thy leaves, my daughter, and let the fly depart."
But the proud little bud would have her own will,
And folded the fire-fly more closely still;
Till the struggling insect tore open the vest
Of purple and green, that covered her breast.
When the sun came up, she saw with grief
The blooming of her sister bud leaf by leaf.
While she, once as fair and bright as the rest,
Hung her weary head down on her wounded breast.
Bright grew the sunshine, and the soft summer air
Was filled with the music of flowers singing there;
But faint grew the little bud with thirst and pain,
And longed for the cool dew; but now 't was in vain.
Then bitterly she wept for her folly and pride,
As drooping she stood by her fair sister's side.
Then the rose mother leaned the weary little head
On her bosom to rest, and tenderly she said:
"Thon hast learned, my little bud, that, whatever may betide,
Thou canst win thyself no joy by passion or by pride.
The loving Father sends the sunshine and the shower,
That thou mayst become a perfect little flower;--
The sweet dews to feed thee, the soft wind to cheer,
And the earth as a pleasant home, while thou art dwelling here.
Then shouldst thou not be grateful for all this kindly care,
And strive to keep thyself most innocent and fair?
Then seek, my little blossom, to win humility;
Be fair without, be pure within, and thou wilt happy be.
So when the quiet Autumn of thy fragrant life shall come,
Thou mayst pass away, to bloom in the Flower Spirits' home."
Then from the mother's breast, where it still lay hid,
Into the fading bud the dew-drop gently slid;
Stronger grew the little form, and happy tears fell,
As the dew did its silent work, and the bud grew well,
While the gentle rose leaned, with motherly pride,
O'er the fair little ones that bloomed at her side.
Night came again, and the fire-flies flew;
But the bud let them pass, and drank of the dew;
While the soft stars shone, from the still summer heaven,
On the happy little flower that had learned the lesson given.
The music-loving Elves clapped their hands, as Star-Twinkle ceased;
and the Queen placed a flower crown, with a gentle smile, upon the
Fairy's head, saying,--
"The little bud's lesson shall teach us how sad a thing is pride,
and that humility alone can bring true happiness to flower and Fairy.
You shall come next, Zephyr."
And the little Fairy, who lay rocking to and fro upon a fluttering
vine-leaf, thus began her story:--
"As I lay resting in the bosom of a cowslip that bent above the brook,
a little wind, tired of play, told me this tale of
LILY-BELL AND THISTLEDOWN.
ONCE upon a time, two little Fairies went out into the world, to
seek their fortune. Thistledown was as gay and gallant a little Elf
as ever spread a wing. His purple mantle, and doublet of green, were
embroidered with the brightest threads, and the plume in his cap
came always from the wing of the gayest butterfly.
But he was not loved in Fairy-Land, for, like the flower whose
name and colors he wore, though fair to look upon, many were the
little thorns of cruelty and selfishness that lay concealed by his
gay mantle. Many a gentle flower and harmless bird died by his hand,
for he cared for himself alone, and whatever gave him pleasure must
be his, though happy hearts were rendered sad, and peaceful homes
Such was Thistledown; but far different was his little friend,
Lily-Bell. Kind, compassionate, and loving, wherever her gentle face
was seen, joy and gratitude were found; no suffering flower or insect,
that did not love and bless the kindly Fairy; and thus all Elf-Land
looked upon her as a friend.
Nor did this make her vain and heedless of others; she humbly dwelt
among them, seeking to do all the good she might; and many a houseless
bird and hungry insect that Thistledown had harmed did she feed and
shelter, and in return no evil could befall her, for so many
friends were all about her, seeking to repay her tenderness and love
by their watchful care.
She would not now have left Fairy-Land, but to help and counsel her
wild companion, Thistledown, who, discontented with his quiet home,
WOULD seek his fortune in the great world, and she feared he would
suffer from his own faults for others would not always be as gentle
and forgiving as his kindred. So the kind little Fairy left her home
and friends to go with him; and thus, side by side, they flew beneath
the bright summer sky.
On and on, over hill and valley, they went, chasing the gay
butterflies, or listening to the bees, as they flew from flower to
flower like busy little housewives, singing as they worked; till
at last they reached a pleasant garden, filled with flowers and green,
"See," cried Thistledown, "what a lovely home is here; let us rest
among the cool leaves, and hear the flowers sing, for I am sadly tired
So into the quiet garden they went, and the winds gayly welcomed them,
while the flowers nodded on their stems, offering their bright leaves
for the Elves to rest upon, and fresh, sweet honey to refresh them.
"Now, dear Thistle, do not harm these friendly blossoms," said
Lily-Bell; "see how kindly they spread their leaves, and offer us
their dew. It would be very wrong in you to repay their care with
cruelty and pain. You will be tender for my sake, dear Thistle."
Then she went among the flowers, and they bent lovingly before her,
and laid their soft leaves against her little face, that she might see
how glad they were to welcome one so good and gentle, and kindly
offered their dew and honey to the weary little Fairy, who sat among
their fragrant petals and looked smilingly on the happy blossoms, who,
with their soft, low voices, sang her to sleep.
While Lily-Bell lay dreaming among the rose-leaves, Thistledown went
wandering through the garden. First he robbed the bees of their
honey, and rudely shook the little flowers, that he might get the dew
they had gathered to bathe their buds in. Then he chased the bright
winged flies, and wounded them with the sharp thorn he carried for a
sword; he broke the spider's shining webs, lamed the birds, and soon
wherever he passed lay wounded insects and drooping flowers; while
the winds carried the tidings over the garden, and bird and blossom
looked upon him as an evil spirit, and fled away or closed their
leaves, lest he should harm them.
Thus he went, leaving sorrow and pain behind him, till he came to the
roses where Lily-Bell lay sleeping. There, weary of his cruel sport,
he stayed to rest beneath a graceful rose-tree, where grew one
blooming flower and a tiny bud.
"Why are you so slow in blooming, little one? You are too old to be
rocked in your green cradle longer, and should be out among your
sister flowers," said Thistle, as he lay idly in the shadow of the
"My little bud is not yet strong enough to venture forth," replied the
rose, as she bent fondly over it; "the sunlight and the rain would
blight her tender form, were she to blossom now, but soon she will be
fit to bear them; till then she is content to rest beside her mother,
and to wait."
"You silly flower," said Thistledown, "see how quickly I will make you
bloom! your waiting is all useless." And speaking thus, he pulled
rudely apart the folded leaves, and laid them open to the sun and air;
while the rose mother implored the cruel Fairy to leave her little bud
"It is my first, my only one," said she, "and I have watched over it
with such care, hoping it would soon bloom beside me; and now you have
destroyed it. How could you harm the little helpless one, that never
did aught to injure you?" And while her tears fell like summer rain,
she drooped in grief above the little bud, and sadly watched it fading
in the sunlight; but Thistledown, heedless of the sorrow he had given,
spread his wings and flew away.
Soon the sky grew dark, and heavy drops began to fall. Then Thistle
hastened to the lily, for her cup was deep, and the white leaves
fell like curtains over the fragrant bed; he was a dainty little Elf,
and could not sleep among the clovers and bright buttercups. But
when he asked the flower to unfold her leaves and take him in, she
turned her pale, soft face away, and answered sadly, "I must shield my
little drooping sisters whom you have harmed, and cannot let you in."
Then Thistledown was very angry, and turned to find shelter among the
stately roses; but they showed their sharp thorns, and, while their
rosy faces glowed with anger, told him to begone, or they would repay
him for the wrong he had done their gentle kindred.
He would have stayed to harm them, but the rain fell fast, and he
hurried away, saying, "The tulips will take me in, for I have praised
their beauty, and they are vain and foolish flowers."
But when he came, all wet and cold, praying for shelter among their
thick leaves, they only laughed and said scornfully, "We know you,
and will not let you in, for you are false and cruel, and will
only bring us sorrow. You need not come to us for another mantle,
when the rain has spoilt your fine one; and do not stay here, or
we will do you harm."
Then they waved their broad leaves stormily, and scattered the heavy
drops on his dripping garments.
"Now must I go to the humble daisies and blue violets," said Thistle,
"they will be glad to let in so fine a Fairy, and I shall die in
this cold wind and rain."
So away he flew, as fast as his heavy wings would bear him, to the
daisies; but they nodded their heads wisely, and closed their leaves
yet closer, saying sharply,--
"Go away with yourself, and do not imagine we will open our leaves
to you, and spoil our seeds by letting in the rain. It serves you
rightly; to gain our love and confidence, and repay it by such
cruelty! You will find no shelter here for one whose careless hand
wounded our little friend Violet, and broke the truest heart that ever
beat in a flower's breast. We are very angry with you, wicked Fairy;
go away and hide yourself."
"Ah," cried the shivering Elf, "where can I find shelter? I will go
to the violets: they will forgive and take me in."
But the daisies had spoken truly; the gentle little flower was dead,
and her blue-eyed sisters were weeping bitterly over her faded leaves.
"Now I have no friends," sighed poor Thistledown, "and must die of
cold. Ah, if I had but minded Lily-Bell, I might now be dreaming
beneath some flower's leaves."
"Others can forgive and love, beside Lily-Bell and Violet," said
a faint, sweet voice; "I have no little bud to shelter now, and you
can enter here." It was the rose mother that spoke, and Thistle saw
how pale the bright leaves had grown, and how the slender stem was
bowed. Grieved, ashamed, and wondering at the flower's forgiving
words, he laid his weary head on the bosom he had filled with sorrow,
and the fragrant leaves were folded carefully about him.
But he could find no rest. The rose strove to comfort him; but when
she fancied he was sleeping, thoughts of her lost bud stole in, and
the little heart beat so sadly where he lay, that no sleep came; while
the bitter tears he had caused to flow fell more coldly on him than
the rain without. Then he heard the other flowers whispering among
themselves of his cruelty, and the sorrow he had brought to their
happy home; and many wondered how the rose, who had suffered most,
could yet forgive and shelter him.
"Never could I forgive one who had robbed me of my children. I could
bow my head and die, but could give no happiness to one who had taken
all my own," said Hyacinth, bending fondly over the little ones that
blossomed by her side.
"Dear Violet is not the only one who will leave us," sobbed little
Mignonette; "the rose mother will fade like her little bud, and we
shall lose our gentlest teacher. Her last lesson is forgiveness;
let us show our love for her, and the gentle stranger Lily-Bell,
by allowing no unkind word or thought of him who has brought us all
The angry words were hushed, and through the long night nothing was
heard but the dropping of the rain, and the low sighs of the rose.
Soon the sunlight came again, and with it Lily-Bell seeking for
Thistledown; but he was ashamed, and stole away.
When the flowers told their sorrow to kind-hearted Lily-Bell, she wept
bitterly at the pain her friend had given, and with loving words
strove to comfort those whom he had grieved; with gentle care she
healed the wounded birds, and watched above the flowers he had harmed,
bringing each day dew and sunlight to refresh and strengthen, till all
were well again; and though sorrowing for their dead friends, still
they forgave Thistle for the sake of her who had done so much for
them. Thus, erelong, buds fairer than that she had lost lay on the
rose mother's breast, and for all she had suffered she was well repaid
by the love of Lily-Bell and her sister flowers.
And when bird, bee, and blossom were strong and fair again, the gentle
Fairy said farewell, and flew away to seek her friend, leaving behind
many grateful hearts, who owed their joy and life to her.
Meanwhile, over hill and dale went Thistledown, and for a time was
kind and gentle to every living thing. He missed sadly the little
friend who had left her happy home to watch over him, but he was
too proud to own his fault, and so went on, hoping she would find him.
One day he fell asleep, and when he woke the sun had set, and the dew
began to fall; the flower-cups were closed, and he had nowhere to go,
till a friendly little bee, belated by his heavy load of honey, bid
the weary Fairy come with him.
"Help me to bear my honey home, and you can stay with us tonight,"
he kindly said.
So Thistle gladly went with him, and soon they came to a pleasant
garden, where among the fairest flowers stood the hive, covered with
vines and overhung with blossoming trees. Glow-worms stood at the
door to light them home, and as they passed in, the Fairy thought how
charming it must be to dwell in such a lovely place. The floor of wax
was pure and white as marble, while the walls were formed of golden
honey-comb, and the air was fragrant with the breath of flowers.
"You cannot see our Queen to-night," said the little bee, "but
I will show you to a bed where you can rest."
And he led the tired Fairy to a little cell, where on a bed of
flower-leaves he folded his wings and fell asleep.
As the first ray of sunlight stole in, he was awakened by sweet music.
It was the morning song of the bees.
"Awake! awake! for the earliest gleam
Of golden sunlight shines
On the rippling waves, that brightly flow
Beneath the flowering vines.
Awake! awake! for the low, sweet chant
Of the wild-birds' morning hymn
Comes floating by on the fragrant air,
Through the forest cool and dim;
Then spread each wing,
And work, and sing,
Through the long, bright sunny hours;
O'er the pleasant earth
We journey forth,
For a day among the flowers.
"Awake! awake! for the summer wind
Hath bidden the blossoms unclose,
Hath opened the violet's soft blue eye,
And wakened the sleeping rose.
And lightly they wave on their slender stems
Fragrant, and fresh, and fair,
Waiting for us, as we singing come
To gather our honey-dew there.
Then spread each wing,
And work, and sing,
Through the long, bright sunny hours;
O'er the pleasant earth
We journey forth,
For a day among the flowers!"
Soon his friend came to bid him rise, as the Queen desired to speak
with him. So, with his purple mantle thrown gracefully over his
shoulder, and his little cap held respectfully in his hand, he
followed Nimble-Wing to the great hall, where the Queen was being
served by her little pages. Some bore her fresh dew and honey, some
fanned her with fragrant flower-leaves, while others scattered the
sweetest perfumes on the air.
"Little Fairy," said the Queen, "you are welcome to my palace; and
we will gladly have you stay with us, if you will obey our laws.
We do not spend the pleasant summer days in idleness and pleasure, but
each one labors for the happiness and good of all. If our home is
beautiful, we have made it so by industry; and here, as one large,
loving family, we dwell; no sorrow, care, or discord can enter in,
while all obey the voice of her who seeks to be a wise and gentle
Queen to them. If you will stay with us, we will teach you many
things. Order, patience, industry, who can teach so well as they
who are the emblems of these virtues?
"Our laws are few and simple. You must each day gather your share of
honey, see that your cell is sweet and fresh, as you yourself must be;
rise with the sun, and with him to sleep. You must harm no flower in
doing your work, nor take more than your just share of honey; for they
so kindly give us food, it were most cruel to treat them with aught
save gentleness and gratitude. Now will you stay with us, and learn
what even mortals seek to know, that labor brings true happiness?"
And Thistle said he would stay and dwell with them; for he was tired
of wandering alone, and thought he might live here till Lily-Bell
should come, or till he was weary of the kind-hearted bees. Then they
took away his gay garments, and dressed him like themselves, in the
black velvet cloak with golden bands across his breast.
"Now come with us," they said. So forth into the green fields
they went, and made their breakfast among the dewy flowers; and then
till the sun set they flew from bud to blossom, singing as they went;
and Thistle for a while was happier than when breaking flowers and
harming gentle birds.
But he soon grew tired of working all day in the sun, and longed to be
free again. He could find no pleasure with the industrious bees, and
sighed to be away with his idle friends, the butterflies; so while the
others worked he slept or played, and then, in haste to get his share,
he tore the flowers, and took all they had saved for their own food.
Nor was this all; he told such pleasant tales of the life he led
before he came to live with them, that many grew unhappy and
discontented, and they who had before wished no greater joy than
the love and praise of their kind Queen, now disobeyed and blamed her
for all she had done for them.
Long she bore with their unkind words and deeds; and when at length
she found it was the ungrateful Fairy who had wrought this trouble in
her quiet kingdom, she strove, with sweet, forgiving words, to show
him all the wrong he had done; but he would not listen, and still went
on destroying the happiness of those who had done so much for him.
Then, when she saw that no kindness could touch his heart, she said:--
"Thistledown, we took you in, a friendless stranger, fed and clothed
you, and made our home as pleasant to you as we could; and in return
for all our care, you have brought discontent and trouble to my
subjects, grief and care to me. I cannot let my peaceful kingdom
be disturbed by you; therefore go and seek another home. You may find
other friends, but none will love you more than we, had you been
worthy of it; so farewell." And the doors of the once happy home
he had disturbed were closed behind him.
Then he was very angry, and determined to bring some great sorrow on
the good Queen. So he sought out the idle, wilful bees, whom he had
first made discontented, bidding them follow him, and win the honey
the Queen had stored up for the winter.
"Let us feast and make merry in the pleasant summer-time," said
Thistle; "winter is far off, why should we waste these lovely days,
toiling to lay up the food we might enjoy now. Come, we will take
what we have made, and think no more of what the Queen has said."
So while the industrious bees were out among the flowers, he led
the drones to the hive, and took possession of the honey, destroying
and laying waste the home of the kind bees; then, fearing that
in their grief and anger they might harm him, Thistle flew away to
seek new friends.
After many wanderings, he came at length to a great forest, and here
beside a still lake he stayed to rest. Delicate wood-flowers grew near
him in the deep green moss, with drooping heads, as if they listened
to the soft wind singing among the pines. Bright-eyed birds peeped
at him from their nests, and many-colored insects danced above the
cool, still lake.
"This is a pleasant place," said Thistle; "it shall be my home for a
while. Come hither, blue dragon-fly, I would gladly make a friend of
you, for I am all alone."
The dragon-fly folded his shining wings beside the Elf, listened to
the tale he told, promised to befriend the lonely one, and strove
to make the forest a happy home to him.
So here dwelt Thistle, and many kind friends gathered round him,
for he spoke gently to them, and they knew nothing of the cruel deeds
he had done; and for a while he was happy and content. But at length
he grew weary of the gentle birds, and wild-flowers, and sought new
pleasure in destroying the beauty he was tired of; and soon the
friends who had so kindly welcomed him looked upon him as an evil
spirit, and shrunk away as he approached.
At length his friend the dragon-fly besought him to leave the quiet
home he had disturbed. Then Thistle was very angry, and while the
dragon-fly was sleeping among the flowers that hung over the lake, he
led an ugly spider to the spot, and bade him weave his nets about the
sleeping insect, and bind him fast. The cruel spider gladly obeyed
the ungrateful Fairy; and soon the poor fly could move neither leg nor
wing. Then Thistle flew away through the wood, leaving sorrow and
trouble behind him.
He had not journeyed far before he grew weary, and lay down to rest.
Long he slept, and when he awoke, and tried to rise, his hands and
wings were bound; while beside him stood two strange little figures,
with dark faces and garments, that rustled like withered leaves; who
cried to him, as he struggled to get free,--
"Lie still, you naughty Fairy, you are in the Brownies' power, and
shall be well punished for your cruelty ere we let you go."
So poor Thistle lay sorrowfully, wondering what would come of it,
and wishing Lily-Bell would come to help and comfort him; but he had
left her, and she could not help him now.
Soon a troop of Brownies came rustling through the air, and gathered
round him, while one who wore an acorn-cup on his head, and was their
King, said, as he stood beside the trembling Fairy,--
"You have done many cruel things, and caused much sorrow to happy
hearts; now you are in my power, and I shall keep you prisoner
till you have repented. You cannot dwell on the earth without harming
the fair things given you to enjoy, so you shall live alone in
solitude and darkness, till you have learned to find happiness in
gentle deeds, and forget yourself in giving joy to others. When you
have learned this, I will set you free."
Then the Brownies bore him to a high, dark rock, and, entering a
little door, led him to a small cell, dimly lighted by a crevice
through which came a single gleam of sunlight; and there, through
long, long days, poor Thistle sat alone, and gazed with wistful eyes
at the little opening, longing to be out on the green earth. No one
came to him, but the silent Brownies who brought his daily food; and
with bitter tears he wept for Lily-Bell, mourning his cruelty and
selfishness, seeking to do some kindly deed that might atone for his
A little vine that grew outside his prison rock came creeping up,
and looked in through the crevice, as if to cheer the lonely Fairy,
who welcomed it most gladly, and daily sprinkled its soft leaves
with his small share of water, that the little vine might live,
even if it darkened more and more his dim cell.
The watchful Brownies saw this kind deed, and brought him fresh
flowers, and many things, which Thistle gratefully received, though
he never knew it was his kindness to the vine that gained for him
Thus did poor Thistle strive to be more gentle and unselfish, and
grew daily happier and better.
Now while Thistledown was a captive in the lonely cell, Lily-Bell was
seeking him far and wide, and sadly traced him by the sorrowing hearts
he had left behind.
She healed the drooping flowers, cheered the Queen Bee's grief,
brought back her discontented subjects, restored the home to peace
and order, and left them blessing her.
Thus she journeyed on, till she reached the forest where Thistledown
had lost his freedom. She unbound the starving dragon-fly, and tended
the wounded birds; but though all learned to love her, none could tell
where the Brownies had borne her friend, till a little wind came
whispering by, and told her that a sweet voice had been heard, singing
Fairy songs, deep in a moss-grown rock.
Then Lily-Bell went seeking through the forest, listening for the
voice. Long she looked and listened in vain; when one day, as she was
wandering through a lonely dell, she heard a faint, low sound of
music, and soon a distant voice mournfully singing,--
"Bright shines the summer sun,
Soft is the summer air;
Gayly the wood-birds sing,
Flowers are blooming fair.
"But, deep in the dark, cold rock,
Sadly I dwell,
Longing for thee, dear friend,
"Thistle, dear Thistle, where are you?" joyfully cried Lily-Bell,
as she flew from rock to rock. But the voice was still, and she
would have looked in vain, had she not seen a little vine, whose green
leaves fluttering to and fro seemed beckoning her to come; and as she
stood among its flowers she sang,--
"Through sunlight and summer air
I have sought for thee long,
Guided by birds and flowers,
And now by thy song.
O'er hill and dell
Hither to comfort thee
Then from the vine-leaves two little arms were stretched out to her,
and Thistledown was found. So Lily-Bell made her home in the shadow
of the vine, and brought such joy to Thistle, that his lonely cell
seemed pleasanter to him than all the world beside; and he grew daily
more like his gentle friend. But it did not last long, for one day
she did not come. He watched and waited long, for the little face
that used to peep smiling in through the vine-leaves. He called and
beckoned through the narrow opening, but no Lily-Bell answered; and
he wept sadly as he thought of all she had done for him, and that now
he could not go to seek and help her, for he had lost his freedom
by his own cruel and wicked deeds.
At last he besought the silent Brownie earnestly to tell him
whither she had gone.
"O let me go to her," prayed Thistle; "if she is in sorrow, I will
comfort her, and show my gratitude for all she has done for me: dear
Brownie, set me free, and when she is found I will come and be your
prisoner again. I will bear and suffer any danger for her sake."
"Lily-Bell is safe," replied the Brownie; "come, you shall learn
the trial that awaits you."
Then he led the wondering Fairy from his prison, to a group of tall,
drooping ferns, beneath whose shade a large white lily had been
placed, forming a little tent, within which, on a couch of thick green
moss, lay Lily-Bell in a deep sleep; the sunlight stole softly in,
and all was cool and still.
"You cannot wake her," said the Brownie, as Thistle folded his arms
tenderly about her. "It is a magic slumber, and she will not wake
till you shall bring hither gifts from the Earth, Air, and Water
Spirits. 'T is a long and weary task, for you have made no friends
to help you, and will have to seek for them alone. This is the trial
we shall give you; and if your love for Lily-Bell be strong enough
to keep you from all cruelty and selfishness, and make you kind and
loving as you should be, she will awake to welcome you, and love you
still more fondly than before."
Then Thistle, with a last look on the little friend he loved so well,
set forth alone to his long task.
The home of the Earth Spirits was the first to find, and no one
would tell him where to look. So far and wide he wandered, through
gloomy forests and among lonely hills, with none to cheer him when
sad and weary, none to guide him on his way.
On he went, thinking of Lily-Bell, and for her sake bearing all;
for in his quiet prison many gentle feelings and kindly thoughts had
sprung up in his heart, and he now strove to be friends with all, and
win for himself the love and confidence of those whom once he sought
to harm and cruelly destroy.
But few believed him; for they remembered his false promises and
evil deeds, and would not trust him now; so poor Thistle found few
to love or care for him.
Long he wandered, and carefully he sought; but could not find the
Earth Spirits' home. And when at length he reached the pleasant
garden where he and Lily-Bell first parted, he said within himself,--
"Here I will stay awhile, and try to win by kindly deeds the flowers'
forgiveness for the pain and sorrow I brought them long ago; and they
may learn to love and trust me. So, even if I never find the Spirits,
I shall be worthier of Lily-Bell's affection if I strive to atone for
the wrong I have done."
Then he went among the flowers, but they closed their leaves, and
shrank away, trembling with fear; while the birds fled to hide
among the leaves as he passed.
This grieved poor Thistle, and he longed to tell them how changed
he had become; but they would not listen. So he tried to show, by
quiet deeds of kindness, that he meant no harm to them; and soon
the kind-hearted birds pitied the lonely Fairy, and when he came near
sang cheering songs, and dropped ripe berries in his path, for he
no longer broke their eggs, or hurt their little ones.
And when the flowers saw this, and found the once cruel Elf now
watering and tending little buds, feeding hungry insects, and
helping the busy ants to bear their heavy loads, they shared the pity
of the birds, and longed to trust him; but they dared not yet.
He came one day, while wandering through the garden, to the little
rose he had once harmed so sadly. Many buds now bloomed beside her,
and her soft face glowed with motherly pride, as she bent fondly over
them. But when Thistle came, he saw with sorrow how she bade them
close their green curtains, and conceal themselves beneath the leaves,
for there was danger near; and, drooping still more closely over them,
she seemed to wait with trembling fear the cruel Fairy's coming.
But no rude hand tore her little ones away, no unkind words were
spoken; but a soft shower of dew fell lightly on them, and Thistle,
bending tenderly above them, said,--
"Dear flower, forgive the sorrow I once brought you, and trust me now
for Lily-Bell's sake. Her gentleness has changed my cruelty to
kindness, and I would gladly repay all for the harm I have done;
but none will love and trust me now."
Then the little rose looked up, and while the dew-drops shone
like happy tears upon her leaves, she said,--
"I WILL love and trust you, Thistle, for you are indeed much
changed. Make your home among us, and my sister flowers will soon
learn to love you as you deserve. Not for sweet Lily-Bell's sake,
but for your own, will I become your friend; for you are kind and
gentle now, and worthy of our love. Look up, my little ones, there is
no danger near; look up, and welcome Thistle to our home."
Then the little buds raised their rosy faces, danced again upon
their stems, and nodded kindly at Thistle, who smiled on them through
happy tears, and kissed the sweet, forgiving rose, who loved and
trusted him when most forlorn and friendless.
But the other flowers wondered among themselves, and Hyacinth said,--
"If Rose-Leaf is his friend, surely we may be; yet still I fear he may
soon grow weary of this gentleness, and be again the wicked Fairy he
once was, and we shall suffer for our kindness to him now."
"Ah, do not doubt him!" cried warm-hearted little Mignonette; "surely
some good spirit has changed the wicked Thistle into this good little
Elf. See how tenderly he lifts aside the leaves that overshadow pale
Harebell, and listen now how softly he sings as he rocks little
Eglantine to sleep. He has done many friendly things, though none
save Rose-Leaf has been kind to him, and he is very sad. Last night
when I awoke to draw my curtains closer, he sat weeping in the
moonlight, so bitterly, I longed to speak a kindly word to him.
Dear sisters, let us trust him."
And they all said little Mignonette was right; and, spreading wide
their leaves, they bade him come, and drink their dew, and lie among
the fragrant petals, striving to cheer his sorrow. Thistle told them
all, and, after much whispering together, they said,--
"Yes, we will help you to find the Earth Spirits, for you are striving
to be good, and for love of Lily-Bell we will do much for you."
So they called a little bright-eyed mole, and said, "Downy-Back,
we have given you a pleasant home among our roots, and you are
a grateful little friend; so will you guide dear Thistle to the
Earth Spirits' home?"
Downy-Back said, "Yes," and Thistle, thanking the kindly flowers,
followed his little guide, through long, dark galleries, deeper
and deeper into the ground; while a glow-worm flew before to light
the way. On they went, and after a while, reached a path lit up by
bright jewels hung upon the walls. Here Downy-Back, and Glimmer,
the glow-worm, left him, saying,--
"We can lead you no farther; you must now go on alone, and the music
of the Spirits will guide you to their home."
Then they went quickly up the winding path, and Thistle, guided
by the sweet music, went on alone.
He soon reached a lovely spot, whose golden halls were bright
with jewels, which sparkled brightly, and threw many-colored shadows
on the shining garments of the little Spirits, who danced below
to the melody of soft, silvery bells.
Long Thistle stood watching the brilliant forms that flashed and
sparkled round him; but he missed the flowers and the sunlight,
and rejoiced that he was not an Earth Spirit.
At last they spied him out, and, gladly welcoming him, bade him join
in their dance. But Thistledown was too sad for that, and when he
told them all his story they no longer urged, but sought to comfort
him; and one whom they called little Sparkle (for her crown and robe
shone with the brightest diamonds), said: "You will have to work
for us, ere you can win a gift to show the Brownies; do you see
those golden bells that make such music, as we wave them to and fro?
We worked long and hard ere they were won, and you can win one of
those, if you will do the task we give you."
And Thistle said, "No task will be too hard for me to do for dear
Then they led him to a strange, dark place, lit up with torches;
where troops of Spirits flew busily to and fro, among damp rocks, and
through dark galleries that led far down into the earth. "What do
they here?" asked Thistle.
"I will tell," replied little Sparkle, "for I once worked here
myself. Some of them watch above the flower-roots, and keep them
fresh and strong; others gather the clear drops that trickle from the
damp rocks, and form a little spring, which, growing ever larger,
rises to the light above, and gushes forth in some green field or
lonely forest; where the wild-birds come to drink, and wood-flowers
spread their thirsty leaves above the clear, cool waves, as they go
dancing away, carrying joy and freshness wherever they go. Others
shape the bright jewels into lovely forms, and make the good-luck